Monday, December 11, 2023

2023 New York City Christmas Trip - Day 1

Last week, I went to New York City with my Momma, my Aunt Joy (my Mom’s sister), and my cousin, Shelby (Aunt Joy’s daughter), and we had the best time!  We’ve been saying for years that we were going to take a girls’ trip somewhere, and this year we finally did it!! 

Thursday morning, I woke up dark and early at 4:20 AM, I got myself ready, I finished packing, and I crept out the door quietly so as to not wake the rest of the house.  I had laid out my clothes and packed every single thing the night before with the exception of my makeup and curling iron so I could be quick and quiet, and my suitcase was waiting by the front door so I wouldn’t wake Maui.  She sleeps in her crate in the guest bathroom downstairs by the garage, so I didn’t want to go through the garage and wake her. 

Brian had pulled my car out of the garage and parked it just outside the sidewalk, so I wouldn’t have to open the garage and wake everyone, and everything went smoothly until I got in the car and realized that the windshield was completely frozen.  Lol.  It had gotten soooo cold that night that there was a nice, thick layer of ice covering the entire windshield, so I ended up having to sit there and wait with the defroster on high until it cleared.  We use our garage for our cars 100% of the time, so I didn’t even have an ice scraper in my glovebox.  Whoops!

Anyhoo, that put me about 10 minutes behind, so I hit the road the second it was clear enough to drive, and I headed to Momma and Daddy’s to pick up my mom.  We said goodbye to my dad, who had gotten up early (even though he was super sick) to see us off, and then we headed to Aunt Joy’s house.  We arrived there just before 6, we loaded up her car, and then we hit the road. 

I haaaate driving, especially to Atlanta, so I was very grateful that she had offered to drive us to the airport.  Thanks again, Aunt Joy!!  :o)  <3

The drive to the parking lot by the airport was uneventful, and we made it there quickly.  It does suck to have to wake up so early, but it’s so nice to avoid all of the crazy traffic.  We arrived at the parking lot just as the sun was coming up, and Shelby met us there.  We all then shuttled from there to the airport. 

This was my Momma’s first time flying ever (aside from flying in her old boss’s little four-seater plane decades ago), so she’d never flown commercial, and she’d never been in the Atlanta airport.  It was a big day for her, and she ended up flying like a champ!  You would have thought she’d done it a million times!

We stopped for a bathroom break when we arrived, we breezed through security, and then we took the plane train to our concourse.  If you’ve never been to the Atlanta airport, it’s MASSIVE, and it’s also held the title for the busiest airport in the entire world for the last few decades.  Every other airport I’ve been to pales in comparison to the Atlanta airport, so if you can navigate and survive a trip out of that one, then you can survive any airport.  It’s the one that we have to fly out of every single time since it’s our home airport, so we’re all used to it, but it can be a shock the first time you go.

We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare, so we walked around a bit and grabbed some bottles of water for the flight.  I never ever board a plane without a bottle of water because you just never know when you’re going to get stranded on the tarmac. 

Our flight ended up being on time, and everything went smoothly.  We had booked two seats on one side and the other two seats across the aisle, so I took the middle seat and let mom have the aisle, and then Joy and Shelby were across the aisle from us.  Mom was surprised at just how cramped the planes really are.  They really do always look bigger in the movies.

We happened to be on the side of the plane that had the view of NYC as we were coming in, and the guy sitting next to me was kind enough to let mom peek out and see the view.  He even took a couple of pictures of the NYC skyline with her phone for her as we were landing.  Momma also got her Wings at the end of the flight.  ;o)

We flew into Newark, and it’s been updated recently, so it is NICE… much better than the dump that is JFK that we flew into last year.  We had all carried on, so we didn’t have to wait for baggage claim, so we grabbed an Uber, and he drove us into Manhattan.  We got to drive through the Lincoln Tunnel, which was funny, because Mom had watched Elf on the plane and Buddy walks through the Lincoln Tunnel on his way into Manhattan.  :o)  I’ve been to NYC five times and New Jersey once, but I think that might be the first time I’ve ever been through the Lincoln Tunnel.  It’s the one that goes under The Hudson River and just knowing that freaked me out a bit.  I get claustrophobic in those types of situations.  Yeesh.  Last year, we had to go through the Holland Tunnel, and I wasn’t a fan of that one either.  Haha.

We arrived at our hotel way ahead of our scheduled itinerary (our flight had landed early and our drive to Manhattan was way faster than we’d estimated), so it was too early to check in, and the hotel checked our bags for us so we could go exploring.  We stayed at The Hampton Inn New York Times Square on West 48th Street… it’s brand new and it was really nice!  The elevator situation was a cluster, so stay tuned and I’ll mention that a little later. 

Since we were near Times Square, we decided to head that way in search of food since it was lunchtime.  We ended up at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square, and miraculously, they told us it was only going to be a 20 minute wait, and we really only waited about 10 minutes.  Momma and I shared a chicken sandwich and fries, and it was a yummy way to start the trip.  I don’t like to eat a lot when I travel since I have a finicky stomach, so it was soooo nice to have my Mom there with me to share meals.  We ended up sharing most of our meals (maybe all?) on the whole trip, so there was no food waste, and we didn’t have to spend a gajillion dollars on food.  Haha.

After our meal, we headed back out into Times Square to let Mom take in all the sights.  It was bright and loud as usual, and we were able to get some great pictures there! 

By the time we were done there, 3 PM had rolled around which meant that we were able to walk back to our hotel and get checked in.  Sure enough, they had our room all ready, so we headed to the elevators to get to the 21st floor.  Since our hotel was new, they had these brand-new elevator systems that I’m assuming are supposed to be sophisticated and help cut back on wait times, but I swear they made things even more difficult!

Of course, at check-in time, the lobby was bonkers, and there were loads of people waiting for the elevators.  I have no clue how many floors are in that building, but I do know there are at least 21 since we were on the 21st floor, and they only had 4-5 elevators in the entire building.  The elevators have NO BUTTONS INSIDE, and instead, there is one fancy touch screen pad in the lobby that controls all of the elevators.  You punch in your floor there outside the elevators, and then it tells you which elevator to get on to take to your floor.

Once your elevator opens, you have to look inside the door and make sure your floor is lit up, and then you know that it’s okay to take that elevator.  If your floor is not lit up, you cannot take that elevator because it will only go to the floors that are currently lit.

Well, many people didn’t know this, so they were just jumping on random elevators only to discover that they weren’t being taken to their floors.  The elevator system also hasn’t worked out the kinks, and it was trying to put 30 people on one elevator that only holds 10 people.  So, on that day, the elevators kept filling up before we could get on, even though it was telling us to take that elevator. 

Every time that would happen, we’d have to go back to the fancy touch screen and put in our floor again, and then go wait for another elevator.  It got to the point where people were trying to cram into the elevators so they wouldn’t have to miss, and that was a nightmare for people like me who HATE elevators and have a fear of getting stuck on one.  Haha.

Anyway, enough with the elevator talk, we finallyyyy made it to our room (which was about the size of a walk-in closet per all NYC hotel rooms – haha), and we got settled in.  We had to get verrrry creative with all of our stuff, because having four grown women in one tiny hotel room with one tiny bathroom was tough, but we made it work. 

We were able to shove all of our stuff in all of the little nooks and crannies, and thankfully, for getting ready purposes, they had a bathroom mirror, a mirror on the outside of the bathroom door, and another mirror next to the TV, so we were all able to do makeup and hair in various random spots throughout the trip, and we would just trade places based on who needed to be in the actual bathroom.  Haha.  One morning I did my makeup on the bed, one morning in front of the bathroom door, and one morning in the actual bathroom. 

Once we were all settled in and freshened up, we headed back out in the direction of the Radio City/Rockefeller Center area.  Our hotel was in the PERFECT location, sandwiched between that area and Times Square.  We were just a short walk from both.

First, we stopped on Sixth Avenue to take pictures with the big red ornaments, and there was also a STUNNING tree right across from those at the Avenue of the Americas building.  Somehow we missed that tree last year when we took the kids.  They had an actual picture-taking spot, so we waited in a very short line for that, and we got the cutest pictures!

Next up, we made our way to Rockefeller Center, and Momma was able to see the Saks Fifth Avenue light display and get her first glimpse of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree!!!!  I’ve been to NYC at Christmastime three times now and that view never ever gets old, y’all.  Never.

One thing that I was completely baffled by was how few people were there at the tree!!  The tree had literally just been lit the night before we arrived, so I thought it was going to be nuts, but it wasn’t at all.  Last year when we took the kids, there were so many people crammed in that area (and they even had the street closed that year) that we couldn’t get anywhere near it.  We ended up having to go back way later in the night to be able to get to it last year, but Thursday, we were able to walk right up to it and we got some great pictures!

Next on the list was to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  I’ve been in there all five times I’ve been to New York City, and it’s probably my favorite thing to do in all of NYC.  I never tire of that place.  It is just the most stunning church I’ve ever been in, and there is so much to see.  We toured around inside the church for a really long time… probably an hour? and we were able to see the Nativity.  It just just STUNNING, y’all.  STUNNING. 

If y’all have been following me for any amount of time, then you know that we are Catholic, so it’s always so special to me to be able to spend time in there.  We all lit candles while we were in there, and it was just a peaceful time inside that little church bubble surrounded by the chaos that is the city of New York.

When we left the church, we stopped in the foyer for a few minutes so I could FaceTime Brian and the kids.  They’d been wanting to FaceTime, and I knew I’d never be able to hear them out on the streets, so they took a few minutes to tell me about their day at school and I told them how our trip had gone so far. 

Once we were done there, we walked along Saks Fifth Avenue again, this time to look at all of the store fronts and they were just gorgeous this year.  I’ve seen their store three times in person at Christmas, and this year was, by far, my favorite. 

We walked around that area of Manhattan for a bit longer after that, trying to decide what to do.  We were so ahead of schedule at that point that we had already checked everything off of our list for the day, and it was only 5:30 PM which meant we still had four hours to spend until it was time for our reservation at the Oscar Wilde popup Christmas bar. 

We ducked into Rockefeller Plaza to inquire about grabbing drinks at The Rainbow Room, but they were closed for a private party, so instead, we walked back to West 48th Street where we’d seen several cute little restaurants/bistros/bars/pubs.  The first one we tried was called The Elgin, and it was packed when we walked in, so I knew there was no way we were getting in.  Well, we truly lucked out because the hostess told us that they had one table available that was being saved for a 7 PM reservation.  It was 6 PM at the time, so she told us we had one hour to get in, grab drinks, etc., and get out, and that if we promised to be out in an hour, we could have it. 

We took it, and we ended up being seated at a little booth tucked away in the back corner of the restaurant, and it was PERFECT.  Everything was decorated for the holidays, and there was a cheerful hustle and bustle of noise from the patrons throughout, and it was just the coziest little place. 

We got a round of drinks first – a beer for me, an amaretto sour for Momma, a white wine for Joy, and a marg for Shelby – and then we decided to split a pizza, which was the perfect little size for the four of us.  The pizza was divine – that fresh basil was delicious – and we had the best little time chatting and refueling.  We finished up and paid just in time for them to get the table cleaned up and ready for the 7 PM reservation coming in behind us and it couldn’t have been more ideal.

After we were done there, we decided to go back to our hotel room for a bit to rest since it was right down the street.  We all wanted to rest our feet and charge our phones, and just chill for a bit.  On the way back in, we had the worst time with the elevators on the whole trip, and we ended up having to wait for FIVE different elevators because their system kept trying to pile 25 people on one elevator at a time.  And again, since there are no buttons inside, you can’t just get on any random elevator.  So dumb.

We finally made it back to the room, and we all relaxed for about an hour, and then we got freshened up one last time for the night ahead. 

We had a 9:30 PM reservation at Oscar Wilde popup Christmas restaurant/bar, but we decided to Uber down there a bit early just to see if they could get us in earlier since we were all getting tired, and again, we got lucky, and they were able to seat us at the perfect little table right away… about 40 minutes early.

This bar, y’all – OMG.  It was the most Christmasy place I’ve ever been in, I think.  Haha.  There was Christmas stuff everywhere and even without the Christmas stuff, the place was a whole vibe… just look at the plates and glasses!  SO cute.

Since we’d already had pizza, we didn’t want to eat a full meal, so we opted to do another round of drinks and we all grabbed a dessert, too.  I opted for the “Leisurely in Love” cocktail which was Titos Vodka, Giffard Lychee, Combier Rose, Lavender, and fresh lime juice” and it was soooo good. 

For dessert, three of us got the “Pizookie” and they brought it out in little individual skillets.  It was a hot chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream, and I think it was my favorite thing that I ate on the whole trip.  My Mom opted for the cheesecake, and it was delicious, too. 

We stayed there for about an hour and a half hanging out and chatting, and then after we were done, we walked around the bar for a bit to take in all of the Christmas flair.  We also made a stop at the bathroom before the Uber ride back to the hotel.

We waited outside for our Uber, and there was some guy who kept walking up slowly to each of us and just staring at us and being weird, but thankfully, the bouncer for the bar was right there, and he handled him for us.  The bouncer was HUGE – probably at least 6’6” I would guess – but he was just as quiet and kind as could be.  And his name was “Little.”  Hahahaha.  We chatted with him and with the hostess for a few minutes while we waited, and the hostess told us that they were familiar with the guy who was out wandering around and bothering us.  She said he hangs around there a lot, but he’s always been harmless.

After our Uber back to the hotel, we all went back to the room and those who shower at night took turns showering while the others got ready for bed, and then we were lights out sometime after 11… maybe close to midnight?  It was a late night that first night for sure, and despite the fact that I was exhausted, I didn’t sleep well, but I rarely do in hotels… especially when you have to share a double bed with another adult.  Lol. 

It was a great first day, though, and I’ll be back to recap the rest of the trip soon so stick around!    

Happy Monday, y’all!


  1. Oh friend, this made me smile with delight for you guys! I’m so glad you did this and it made me relive the trip my mom and I took there for one of her birthdays. We had so many cool New York City moments like y’all did!

  2. I love the pictures of the tree with the lights blurred! Sounds like a great first day though even reading it made me feel tired, lol!

  3. What a fun first day! The elevators sound like the worst! And we always fly through and connect at ATL because we fly Delta--you are right, if you can navigate ATL then you can handle any airport LOL

  4. Those elevators sound horrible! I just smiled the whole time reading this post, as it brought back many memories and I could see how much fun y'all were having. You sure packed in a lot on your first day. Kudos to your mom for doing such a BIG trip for her first flight!

  5. I love NYC at Christmas, or really anytime! I typically request a hotel room on an upper floor, but have learned in NYC to get a lower floor so we can use the stairs instead because we have had elevator issues at other hotels there as well.

    1. That is so smart! I may have to start doing the same thing!

  6. Ohh, I'd love to see NYC at Christmas time! I've only been once and it was during the summer. What a fun trip with the girls, maybe eventually your daughter will be a little older to come along and you can do another trip! Trips like these are so great for memories!!



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